Playdate handheld console gets price rise, new storefront

The charming handheld with a crank now has an official store for curated game picks. But the device itself has received a price hike.
Playdate panic game console sales

The Playdate, a quirky little handheld console from Panic, is getting its own a la carte game store, called Catalog. It launches with 16 titles, 11 of which are brand new, and those who already own a Playdate handheld will receive two free games as an add-on to their existing Season One game subscription.

Announced during the company’s Playdate Update showcase, Panic also shared the unfortunate news that the Playdate console will be receiving a price hike of US $20 due to rising manufacturing costs, bringing the price to US $200. The price change will take effect on 7 April 2023, and any pre-orders made before then will remain at the existing price. Playdates ordered in 2022 are still being distributed.

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Prior to the launch of Catalog, Playdate owners primarily received games through a unique subscription service, which begins upon activation of the device. Comprising 24 games in total for ‘Season One’, two new titles are automatically downloaded onto the device every week, in an attempt to focus the experience of new players, and give each game its time in the sun.

However, the Playdate also supports a convenient way to ‘side-load’ games, meaning developers can create games for the device and distribute them on their own terms – such as via itch.io or other platforms. Panic has stated the launch of Catalog does not change the company’s stance on side-loaded content, nor the console’s ability to support it.

The difference Catalog boasts, as the official Playdate store, is in its content curation: the ability to browse and purchase directly from the console (using the crank, of course), as well as the ability to receive automatic patch updates.

The launch lineup of Playdate games for Catalog is also an added boon. It continues the spirit of Playdate games, with many of the new inclusions being lighthearted, irreverent, and charming.

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The Playdate Catalog launch lineup. Image: Panic Inc.

Some highlights include:

  • Recommendation Dog!!! (free as a Season One bonus), a puzzle-action game where you play as a small dog in a temp agency, with development led by Xalavier Nelson Jr. (Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator).
  • Direct Drive, a silent-movie musical set in 1927.
  • Skew – A The Last Worker Spinoff, an arcade action game developed by Frédérick Raynal (Alone in the Dark, Little Big Adventure).
  • Grand Tour Legends, a cycling racing game, where you use the crank to pedal and stare at your rider’s lusciously-animated behind.
  • Bloom, a real-time narrative social simulator about running a flower shop.

The full Playdate Catalog store can be accessed and browsed on your Playdate console or via the web-based storefront.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran